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An Executive’s Guide to Connected Construction

Don’t Just Invest in Technology Solutions; Build Digital Transformation

Risk has always been high in the construction industry. But the pressure has never been higher for executives, with tighter margins and little room for error – project outcomes can quickly affect business outcomes. Even with steady sector growth around the world, in addition to a new influx of technology transforming the industry, today’s changing landscape means companies need to operate at new levels of sophistication and efficiency to keep up with competition and client demands.

Not to mention, industry-wide challenges are creating hurdles for construction companies of all sizes. For example, despite needing to maintain high levels of worker productivity, the labor shortage is taking its toll. Currently, 80% of contractors are worried about their ability to locate and hire qualified workers, according to a 2019 survey from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

To mitigate this risk, most major construction companies have graduated beyond digital infancy and are utilizing a portfolio of tools to measure performance, improve visibility, and automate processes. Yet, contractors still struggle to determine which innovations will accelerate their business forward. Considering that only 25% of engineering and construction (E&C) firms report their organizations are effective at managing risk, clearly, there is a disconnect between the technology being adopted and its impact.

According to an AGC report, to stay ahead, companies should think bigger than implementing one-off technology solutions and instead, “prioritize technology strategies to create innovative corporate cultures.” This requires construction executives to adopt the right technology that facilities digital transformation by building a strong foundation from the ground up – one that connects the entire project lifecycle.

Has Your Company Achieved True Digital Transformation?

The term “digital transformation” is often used to describe any digital initiative in a company. But often, technology is implemented on a one-off basis, acting more like a patch fix than a part of a real business strategy. An individual solution might improve a single process or workflow, but without seamless integration into goals and with other systems, disconnect, and inconsistent processes make it difficult to reduce risk. As a result, fragmented teams and information lead to costly delays, rework, and waste.

For starters, let’s look at the definition of digital transformation. According to The Enterprisers Project, “Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, fundamentally changing how you operate and deliver value to customers.”

That’s right. Digital transformation isn’t about fixing problems; it’s about building change across the organization. In the construction industry, technology implementations that support this transformation should create:

  • Sustainable and predictable profit margins
  • Greater resiliency across and throughout the sector
  • Agility to grow and transform, to take advantage of new markets, relationships, and business opportunities
  • Greater cooperation and collaboration between all stakeholders to deliver better outcomes for the built environment

Digital transformation is about creating a new model for innovation across the business. In construction, given the challenges of connecting vast volumes of data and people, the focus of this change should be on connection – connecting people, processes, data, workflows, and project phases. No one has delivered on this promise of connected construction from design through turnover and operations – until now.

Autodesk Construction Cloud: Building a Foundation for Digital Transformation

Autodesk Construction Cloud™ is ushering in the new era of connected construction, enabling construction executives to create digital and business transformation at all organizational levels and project phases.

Autodesk Construction Cloud helps to build a comprehensive technology strategy that systematically reduces risk and uncertainty as the project progresses. The integrated software addresses the most critical challenges construction project stakeholders face, from design to preconstruction, construction, turnover, and operations.

Autodesk Construction Cloud - Connecting the lifecycle

Connected Construction: The Future of Building

According to Jay Snyder, FMI, Technology Practice Lead, “While construction firms continue to invest in technology, the business-critical issues of communication and data management need more strategic attention than they currently receive.”

At Autodesk, we knew we had to create a foundation for digital innovation to thrive, allowing project stakeholders to collaborate earlier in the project, providing greater transparency into changes, and ensuring data continuity. All of this supports better decision-making and predictability – the key to building business resilience and scalability.

Autodesk Construction Cloud is built on three key pillars of connected data and technology:

  • Advanced Technology: Our best-in-class technology is built for simplicity and power – uniting headquarters, office and field teams from design through construction and operations
  • Builders Network: The industry’s largest online network of owners, designers, builders, and trades
  • Predictive Insights: Predictive insights driven by analysis of previously siloed data sources to reduce project risk today and in the future

But how exactly does this system of connected construction enable executives to create and manage a technology strategy that supports business objectives? Let’s explore.

Using Connected Construction to Build an Innovation Strategy

For any construction company, creating a winning business strategy involves asking three key questions:

  • How can we save money?
  • How can we make money?
  • How can we beat the competition?

At its core, Autodesk Construction Cloud enables construction executives to strategically manage their most important business outcomes by controlling costs, improving quality, keeping on schedule, and winning business.

Control Costs

For business leaders, cost control is imperative for risk management and remaining financially healthy. With technology that connects the entire construction lifecycle, firms can create more financial stability.

  • Improve Forecast Accuracy: With access to accurate and timely data, businesses can assess and avoid budget issues.
  • Improve Subcontractor Qualification: Subcontractor payments account for almost 90% of project spend. When contractors can assess subcontractor performance vs. cost, they can predetermine the risk and potential cost impact before work begins.
  • Reduce Costs: More visibility into these potential risks allow project teams to plan and adjust for these unexpected incidents before they eat into profits.

Improve Quality 

Top construction firms have robust quality control and assurance plans. A connected construction environment, like the one Autodesk Construction Cloud facilitates, supports, and improves upon current quality plans.

  • Improve Handover Experience: A better handover process can increase customer satisfaction and a contractor’s reputation. Provide a better experience during project handover/turnover through reduced defects, enhanced digital documentation, and support the customer in moving from the construction phase to operations.
  • Reduce the Number of Constructability Issues Onsite: Constructability issues are often found too late. Manage potential issues with designs to ensure the build is successful requires collaboration between all project stakeholders and a robust review process to manage out all issues before they lead to rework on the site.
  • Reduce Rework During Construction: Rework is unplanned works and can occur due to change orders, errors, poor quality, or poor scheduling. With better insight and visibility into all design issues and better team communication, rework and its cost impact can be significantly reduced.
  • Reduce Defects at Handover: Defects at handover, which can erode a project’s profit margin, are a result of issues not being identified and resolved throughout the construction process. With enhanced transparency and standardized workflows, teams can systematically find, track, and fix all issues by closeout.

Keep on Schedule

Tighter project schedules place increasing pressure on construction executives to keep their teams on track. Autodesk Construction Cloud provides software for leaders to improve productivity and identify schedule impacts before they occur.

  • Improve Plan to Actual Ratio: Improving plan to actual ratios in the schedule (if the client permits) provides the opportunity for contractors to deliver the project early and enhance their fee.
  • Improved Resource Planning: Correct allocation and planning of resources (labor, materials, plant) are essential to ensuring that the master program is adhered to. When resources and logistics can be better sequenced, there’s less chance of project overruns.
  • Improved Schedule Control: Schedule control is about how the baseline schedule is related to monthly, weekly, and daily planning of tasks and activities. More insight into current and future planned work, allows teams to be agile when making adjustments to short-term planning.
  • Lean Planning: Identifying opportunities to reduce risk and optimize planning leads to potential savings for the client and the contractor. This can also reduce the likelihood of claims if program dates are hit.

Win Business

To stay ahead of the competition, construction companies need a comprehensive strategy to win new and returning business. With our builders network, connect to contractors, owners, and subcontractors, and utilize machine-learning-based risk analysis helps set every project up for success.

  • Increase Bid Efficiency: The ability to turn bids around quickly reflects how efficient processes are of the bid department. Utilizing technology and automation during the bid stage can dramatically increase efficiency in delivering both compliant and innovative bids that differentiate the contractor from the competition.
  • Increase the Number of Successful Projects: There is a direct correlation between the profitability of the project in comparison to the projects won at the bid stage. Effectively evaluate that can guarantee a solid margin to reduce business risk.
  • Improved Win Rate: Investment in submitting a bid is only realized when business is won. Lost bids are generally a cost to the company. Better insight into the win rate is a key metric to create a robust bid selection process.
  • Improved Stakeholder Engagement: Demonstrating a better understanding of the customer brief through visualization and getting the client to participate in all phases actively can be enabled by technology. This can dramatically increase clients’ understanding of how the contractor will deliver the project and differentiate the contractor during the bid stage.
  • Expand Service: The opportunity to position additional services to the client presents itself during the bid stage, including self-deliver, investment, facilities management, industrialized construction, utilizing digital technology and BIM, and providing sustainability or post-occupancy services. With connected tools that can help provide this extension of value-added services, companies can build continued engagement and interest in their services.

Digital Transformation Starts with Connected Construction

Risk in the construction industry is only growing. Only companies that embrace a whole new model of construction will be able to manage risk and propel their businesses forward. The time has come for leaders to build digital transformation with connected construction.

See the Future of Construction

David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson

Construction Business and Sales Development Sr. Manager, Autodesk

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